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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man ignites fuel tank with torch, burns house

Fire reveals marijuana crop in basement

A fire that heavily damaged a home at 35 E. Garland Ave. was caused when the occupant cut into a car fuel tank with a torch, authorities said Sunday. The Saturday fire caused an estimated $25,000 damage to the one-story, wood-frame house, where 40 or more marijuana plants were growing in the basement, according to Assistant Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer. Spokane police collected the plants and growing equipment. The occupant claimed to have a medical marijuana card he couldn’t find, but eventually admitted it had expired, Schaeffer said. He said the man had been using a torch to remove parts from a vehicle frame outside the house, and burned a hole in the fuel tank while attempting to remove the straps that held it. Burning gasoline flowed to the house, ignited vinyl siding and quickly spread into the attic, Schaeffer said. Twenty-seven firefighters did an “excellent job” of controlling the fire within 30 minutes, contrary to televised criticism by the man who started the fire, Schaeffer said.